updated 09:05 am EDT, Thu May 29, 2008
Intel 32Gb Flash Chip
Intel's NAND flash group today introduced the first flash memory to be made on a sub-40 nanometer manufacturing process. Based on a 34nm process, the chip co-developed with Micron holds 32 gigabits (4GB) like the highest-end flash chips but does so in a standard package smaller than a thumbnail; this lets manufacturers build in the extra storage without having to significantly overhaul their existing hardware, Intel says. The company also hopes it will drive the cost down of expanding storage without affecting size.
Like most flash memory, the chip can be stacked and put side-by-side with others to boost the capacity of a device. The design is officially intended for solid-state drives and will help Intel get even 1.8-inch ultraportable SSDs (such as that in the MacBook Air) "beyond" 256GB in the future, but will also apply to other devices that need flash storage. A two-layer stack of eight cores per stack could hold 64GB of data, or enough to hold as much as eight hours of full-quality HD video on a camcorder or 16,000 songs on a portable media player.
The semiconductor firm plans a quick turnaround for its flash technology and plans to send out samples of the 32Gb chip to partner companies June, with mass production slated for the second half of the year. None of Intel's customers have been named, though the firm plans to make self-branded SSDs in addition to selling the chips to others.